When he started to study, all he thought of were career prospects not personal interest. Fortunately, Benjamin Hanußek soon realised that it takes more than that and so, the German switched his studies from Economic Psychology to Archaeology. Gladly, because there he found out about his true passion: working intellectually with games. He specialised on ancient Egyptian board games, attended conferences and published articles on that topic. Now, to find out about what has changed since the 3rd millennium BCE, he is studying Game Studies and Engineering in Klagenfurt.
Why did you decide to study at all? Was it clear from the beginning what you want to study?
When I finished high school, I thought I had a plan. I studied Economic Psychology and found out pretty fast that studying something only because of its job prospects can end up being quite depressing. I knew then that I needed to follow my true interests, which were rather scholarly than economic. I signed up for an archaeology degree, got accepted and found true joy in dealing with the ancient world. Yet, what caught my major interest were ancient games and what play meant to the great cultures of the past. I was so engaged in the topic that I published articles, participated at conferences and achieved my degree with summa cum laude due to an outstanding BA thesis on an ancient Egyptian board game and its socio-cultural context in the Old Kingdom (3rd millennium BCE). And then? I wanted to see what has changed since then. What is the difference between what a board game meant to a pharaoh compared to us playing a mobile game while waiting for the bus? So, I knew I had to find a degree that would accommodate my interest in digital games from an academic perspective. Therefore, it was never really clear to me what I wanted to study but that is not important because once you listen closely to what your intellect truly desires, your path will unfold before you. From there, all you need is courage and a little discipline.
Do you remember a memorable university related anecdote?
Due to the Covid pandemic all classes are online. So, I can only hear the voices of my colleagues during the classes. One day I went to the university library to pick up some books and I could identify two of my colleagues by their voices. That was quite funny. We are in touch since then.
Which subjects do you like and why? What do you like most about your studies?
My degree is very balanced in teaching theoretical and practical skills. I love theory, so I enjoy classes as Literary Terminology & Practice of Interpretation, Media & Communication Theories and Game Studies but I am also glad to have the chance to get a proper understanding of practical matters in classes like Game Engineering. In addition to that, our lecturers are very excited about their subjects which is really motivating!
Has your view of the world changed through your studies?
That would be a horrible revelation if it had not! My view on culture, science and society has become much more critical and analytical. This helps me to make sense out of my environment and make responsible decisions for my life.
How do you explain the contents of your studies to your family or friends?
I always have to state first that I do not spend my whole day playing games… then I explain that I am looking at what games mean to us, our society and culture. It is nowadays no longer needed to further emphasise the importance of this knowledge in perspective to videogames’ contemporary economic and popular power.
Why did you choose Klagenfurt to study? What do you like about Klagenfurt?
The AAU offers one of the most progressive study programmes in the field of Game Studies in Europe. Besides that… look around! Mountain ranges, a great lake, forests, fresh air. Anything else needed?
Why should one study here?
One has the chance to learn state-of-the-art research from enthusiastic lecturers. The university has been recently renovated and looks neat! It has an excellent library and in addition, the university is fully digitised. Also, I would like to mention once again that the nature here is fantastic.
What do you look forward to when you arrive at the university?
Knowing more than I knew yesterday!
What would be important advice to share with AAU freshers?
If you choose to study Game Studies & Engineering, take it seriously and make the best of it. The programme is unique, progressive and allows you to work intellectually with what most of us love, namely videogames. This programme is not (all) about playing games, but first and foremost about studying games! The professors involved in the programme have put a lot of effort into its design, so do your best to derive its true potential!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In which field do you want to work?
I see myself researching and teaching at the university. So, I would like to pursue the path of becoming an accomplished scholar in the fields of Game Studies, Philosophy and Digital Humanities.